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Setting up your den

1.   Appoint an enthusiastic Den Diva who can provide direction and take responsibility for the club logistics.

As well as organising the event they are expected to open up discussion and debate on the book and help direct questions - you may find these at the back of the book or in an on-line review.  


The Diva also needs to facilitate equal voice for everyone in the club who wants to share their opinion and rein in your vocal characters.   And once you have established regular gatherings, you can always rotate your Den Diva.

Den Diva

2.  Make a wish list for your dream book club:  8-10 members is the ideal club size as this allows for sickness and drop out on the day or night of meet ups. 

Wish List 

Reasons to join a club: 

  • Share love of books

  • motivated by book deadlines

  • read more and get out of your comfort zone

  • meet people

  • be inspired by new authors

  • ask a friend who has similar tastes to you to recommend a book for you and/or your book club

  • do something different (review a book and film, don't be afraid to cheat sometimes)

3.  Make enquiries to assess availability and commitment before your first meeting.

Who's In? 

Your Den might include:

  • Existing social connections

  • New lit friends

  • Neighbours

  • School mums/dads

  • Old Uni friends 

  • Work mates

  • Sports buddies


From this you will begin to build a better picture of your club’s preferred book repertoire, club tone and personality (serious, fun and light-hearted) and help manage everyone’s expectations from the outset. 

4.  Identify the best location and venues for your Den.  This will be determined in part by your own clan – when they are free and how often you plan to meet. 

Location, location, location 

Book clubs at home offer a relaxed environment if you can comfortably host everyone. This is a popular well-trodden route.   Plus you can share the burden of organising and cost. And you need to have a good reason to get there on those rainy dark winter nights.


Success factors are:  

  • make it easy for everyone to get to and from the venue

  • give everyone a chance to host so it doesn’t ever feel like a burden 

  • incorporate side attractions too:  drinks, snacks, small bites BUT don’t do dinner. 
    - It’s a distraction.  Keep it simple.  


It might be more convenient to meet in a pub or a bar as this can be a driving force for securing attendance.  An empty back room could be negotiated with your local publican on a quieter night of the week.  Alternatively book shop cafes are another option.

Success factors are: 

  • chance to meet new people

  • less pressure if you don't like hosting

  • no 'at home' distractions 

5.  Choosing your next book club read.. is seriously the hardest part! 

Get your members to agree to the first book choice. Be patient as not everyone on your list will be able to join from the start. But aim to get as many of you as possible to your next book club.  Have a system of choosing : 

host shares 3 book choices for next read, rest of group agree on the best of three with rationale (need a short read for next month, want something funny & upbeat). The more books the better but not more than 5 as you need to have enough choice (but not too much!). review and blurbs are helpful, some tried and tested anecdotes ('recommended by my best friend', 'read in my other book clubs', 'bookclub read of the year', '9/10 according to The Reading Den', 'time for a classic') etc etc 

Don't rush everyone home/find an excuse to choose quickly.  Be fussy and as open as you can be. Make this decision count to get the best choice for your group! 

Go for easy win reads. 

If you are feeling stale or bored or frustrated with your books step out of your comfort zone and make bold choices - see the Den's Wild Cards. 

6.   Give your club a name and you are ready to get started and have some fun!  Check out The Reading Den's Dozen for starters or favourite authors or head to home for our bright ideas!  

7.  Keep in touch -  tell us how you are getting on as we really welcome your book club ideas too!

8.  And finally keep in fresh -  

  • find a local guest author and get them to join your book review offer to read their manuscripts. 

  • hold your meeting in a different space - a pub, a book shop, a theatre bar

  • take your group to the theatre or a film of your favourite book

  • check out a local book festival

  • invite partners (?) 

 Click here to share your comments. 

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